I’d try to make an intelligent guess about what the Supreme Court
will do about Obamacare, if not for the court’s 2005 Kelo decision.
In a nutshell
(literally): In Kelo v. City of New London, five nutty justices
ruled that government can take property from private owners who
resist selling their homes and small businesses, and give it to
private developers as part of a redevelopment plan that would
achieve higher property tax revenues for the city. New London,
Conn., paid some compensation to the owners, took the property,
couldn’t get financing for the project and abandoned it. The stolen
land is now a dump.
Three of those nutty
judges — Kennedy, Ginsburg and Breyer — are still on the court
deciding on our health care. Two sane dissenting judges from 2005 —
Scalia and Thomas — also remain.
The Kelo case was
uncomplicated, merely addressing the founding premise of our
successful American experiment, i.e., property rights. Conservatives
and liberals alike were shocked by the decision.
There is no way to
guess which way this court is ruling on something as complicated as
President Barack Obama’s so-called “Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act.” A majority of the states have filed actions
challenging the constitutionality of various elements.
It’s possible that the
decision could be delayed until the controversial elements actually
kick in or the 2012 national election it could influence is behind
us, but many expect a ruling tomorrow.
Like some of us, the
court sometimes chooses to put off unpleasant chores. Dealing with a
law that most congressmen didn’t read before passing, on a subject
that affects almost 20 percent of the U.S. economy, must fall into
Regardless of the
decision, debate over the health care issue won’t be over; it’s just
a law, subject to repeal and amendment. We voters should keep this
life-and-death matter in mind when we choose our president, U.S.
senator and congressman in November.
congressional Republicans who voted against Obamacare have been
working on their own comprehensive plan for reforms. I’ve been
surprised that they’ve so inadequately argued a simple fact:
Insurance by definition requires that people who don’t immediately
need it must be part of the payment pool, or the insurance concept
can’t work. If Americans want pre-existing conditions covered, then
everyone who hopes to be covered someday when he has a condition
must be required to buy insurance.
It’s interesting to
note what the physicians in Congress have to say. Dr. Ron Paul
argues that “what’s at stake here … is whether we respect the
Founding Fathers’ idea of a federal government whose powers are few
and defined, laid out in a Constitution that imposes substantive, as
well as procedural, limits on federal power. It is hard to rule in
favor of Obamacare without ruling against the Founders’
This takes us to Gov.
Mitt Romney’s argument that the issue should be addressed by each
state in its own way. Then we can have our ongoing debate about
Romneycare, which made the same obvious argument I noted above: If
you’re going to have full coverage, you must have membership in the
insurance pool, though it hasn’t worked out that way here as
subsidies and free care remain popular.
Another physician, Sen.
Tom Coburn, makes an interesting proposal that we become more like
the Amish. “Our problem in our country today — whether you’re on
Medicare or Medicaid, employer-paid, or an insurance policy with a
low deductible — is you’re assuming that somebody else is paying
your bill,” he said.
That’s where the Amish
come in, as they tend to forgo traditional health insurance.
According to Coburn, “They ask a question about what it costs. They
try to pay cash in advance to get a discount. ... They are actively
involved in purchasing their health care and paying for it.”
Coburn argues that
until we learn a similar lesson about using market forces to connect
the service to the cost, as much as $1 of every $3 now spent on
health care in the United States is wasted. “It’s either fraud,
wasted, or duplication, or error,” he said.
Ah, there is something
we can all understand — fraud and waste in government.
From there, we can move
to more likely solutions than that we all become Amish, or even live
the kind of healthy, personally responsible lifestyles they do.
The Pioneer Institute
has published “The
Great Experiment: The States, the Feds and Your Health Care.”
The best way to intelligently take part in the ongoing debate is to
read this book.
Meanwhile, the Supreme
Court just ruled on the Arizona illegal immigration law, supporting
one part of the law that requires police to check the status of
someone they stop for another cause, and whom they suspect is not in
the U.S. legally. However, the court ruled against another part that
involved arresting people on minor immigration charges.
This mixed opinion
doesn’t seem to address the problem, but never mind: Obama responded
by saying that federal officers don’t have to cooperate with this
decision by responding to Arizona police inquiries regarding
immigration status anyhow. So much for the Supreme Court.
Justice Scalia called
the entire notion of the federal government not supporting federal
laws on immigration “mind-boggling.” Expect more minds to boggle on
the health care issue.